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How Congress Works

Your Congress folder received at registration will contain your documents and others will be distributed during Congress.

What power does Congress have?
Congress is the supreme authority of the ITF. It elects the President, Vice- Presidents, General Secretary and Executive Board, decides the location of ITF headquarters and makes the policy of the Federation.

Who attends Congress?
Delegates of paid-up affiliated unions, who may be accompanied by non voting advisers; observers from non-affiliated organisations, including the other Global Union Federations (GUFs) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); guests of honour; staff of the ITF Secretariat and the host unions. Plenary sessions are open to the press and public, with the section conferences meeting in closed session.

All participants – delegates, observers, visitors and guests (including accompanying persons) wishing to enter the Congress venue or attend receptions - must register with the ITF Secretariat before Congress.

Registration will take place in the Convention Centre from 08:30 to 10:30 on 3 August, from 08:00 to 09:30 and 15:00 to 19:00 on 4 August and then from 08:00 to 10:00 on 5 August. While registering you will need to indicate if you are replacing someone else at the last minute. All participants will receive an official credential.

How is Congress organised?
The conduct of Congress is governed by standing orders, which are adopted at the beginning of the proceedings. The opening session is followed by plenary sessions and by section conferences, each of which appoints a rapporteur.

Why is there a debate on the Report on Activities?
This is the point on the agenda, which gives delegates the opportunity to comment on what the ITF has been doing. There will be a special debate on “Strong Unions – Sustainable Transport” which continues the programme focused on building union membership and strength in the international economy.

Who presides at the Congress sessions?
The ITF President chairs the plenary sessions. The elected section and committee chairs preside over the section conferences and Women’s Conference.

Who can speak in debates?
Delegates and advisers (with the permission of the head of their delegation) can speak.

What is the process if you want to speak in plenary?
Complete one of the “request to speak” cards you will find near the podium and hand it to the President or a member of the ITF Secretariat. You will then be added to the list of speakers. When you are called, speak from the rostrum at the front of the hall.

Please remember that you words are being translated simultaneously into other languages. Unless you have made alternative arrangements, you must speak in one of the languages made available by the ITF.

Keeping to the following rules will ensure what you say is clearly understood by all:

  • Avoid jargon and spell out the full titles of organisations etc. They may not have the same set of initials in every language.
  • If you intend to speak from a written text, even if it is handwritten, please give a copy to the ITF Secretariat in advance so that copies can be made for the interpreters.
  • Keep your speech short. The President has a right to limit speeches and is likely to restrict them to five minutes or less. If your intervention goes beyond the time limit, you will be asked to stop.

Credentials Committee
In order to ascertain the status and voting rights of delegations and delegates, the Credentials Committee will meet to examine ITF records and will verify the strength of each delegation. You should note that your union’s voting strength is based on the affiliation fees paid to the ITF for 2010, and you should check with your own union before you leave home on your union’s paid-up membership figure. Any questions on this should be addressed to the ITF Secretariat. If your union has not paid fees in accordance with Rule XVI (4) of the ITF Constitution you will not be entitled to sit as delegates or to vote.

How is the voting conducted?
Motions, constitutional amendments and reports are normally first put to the vote by show of hands. Only accredited delegates can vote by raising their registration cards. If the show of hands does not produce a clear majority, then the President may call for a membership vote, based on the voting strength of each delegation (defined in Rule IV, paragraph (9)) of the ITF Constitution.

A membership vote may also be requested from at least three different countries. Head of delegations are handed sets of ballot papers for the membership votes as soon as the report of the Credentials Committee has been adopted in the plenary session in the afternoon of Thursday 5 August. You will be given more detailed information on what to do if a membership vote takes place.

How are resolutions adopted?
Motions are submitted by affiliates up to four months before Congress, and amendments to those motions up to four weeks before. Congress can debate these motions, together with any emergency motions. Separate guidance on resolutions is given on page 7. A Resolutions Committee is elected at the beginning of Congress and makes recommendations on whether motions are to be debated by the plenary or referred to one or more section conferences and can make redrafting proposals. The committee may also recommend that a motion be remitted to the Executive Board for further consideration. Emergency motions may be submitted to the Management Committee (acting as the standing orders committee) which will decide to put them before Congress only if they relate to major developments that have come about since the date for submission of ordinary motions.

How is the ITF leadership elected?
Congress elects the Executive Board on the basis of nominations submitted by the various electoral groups, which are based on the ITF’s regional groupings.

Congress elects the President, Vice-Presidents and General Secretary on the basis of recommendations made by the Executive Board.

Who can take part in the section conferences?
Any delegate or adviser can attend section conferences, but in the case of a vote, only delegates from unions that have declared membership in the section in the annual membership questionnaire to the ITF have the right to vote. If a membership vote takes place in a section conference, voting will be based on membership figures declared in the section concerned.

How does the Women’s Conference function?
The Women’s Conference is part of Congress, and while women delegates and advisers will be given priority speaking rights over male delegates by the chair (who is the chair of the ITF Women’s Committee), any delegate or adviser can attend. If a membership vote is needed it is carried out using the total membership figures of each union.

What are the main functions of the section conferences and Women’s Conference?
The main functions are:

  • To elect the chair and vice-chair(s) of the section committee, women’s committee and other committees;
  • To review the Report on Activities;
  • To debate issues related to “Organising Globally”;
  • To review the Congress theme document;
  • To approve a specific work programme;
  • To debate motions referred by the Resolutions Committee.
Each conference may choose to transact other business if it wishes, time permitting.

Each conference appoints a rapporteur (often the chair) who then presents the report to the plenary.
  1. Motions are the draft texts submitted to ITF Congress containing policy proposals for decision. If approved by Congress, they gain the status of resolutions.

  2. According to the ITF Constitution, each ordinary Congress must have an agenda item for motions.

  3. Congress resolutions guide and form the work of the ITF over the inter- Congress period. The Executive Board acts as steward of the Congress resolutions once they have been approved, by monitoring their implementation.

  4. The ITF Constitution says that:

    “Motions for consideration by an Ordinary Congress shall be submitted so as to reach the General Secretary at least four months before the Congress begins. The final agenda of an Ordinary Congress shall be issued to affiliated organisations at least two months before the Congress begins. Emergency motions may be presented to an Ordinary Congress, but shall only be discussed if the Standing Orders Committee decides that they are truly of an urgent character and could not have been submitted with the notice prescribed above”

    “Amendments to motions placed on the agenda of an Ordinary Congress shall reach the General Secretary at least four weeks before the Congress begins”

    Motions to amend the constitution are handled in the same way as the other motions – the only difference being that they must be submitted to a membership vote and must receive at least two thirds of the valid votes cast to succeed.

  5. This means that, for the 2010 Congress, which opens on 5 August, the deadline for Congress Motions is 5 April and the deadline for receipt of amendments is 8 July. The Secretariat needs to carry out a lot of work – including translation work - in this short period to ensure the motions are clear and practical, and understandable by all.

  6. For this reason, the Secretariat is recommending to affiliates very strongly that motions be submitted as soon as possible, i.e. not immediately before the deadline.

  7. ITF will lay out these deadlines as clearly as possible in its communications with affiliates to aid the process. However, in addition, the ITF Executive has adopted some guidance for unions in submitting motions to make it easier for all.

    Format and language

  8. Affiliates are asked to consider the following in submitting motions:

    a. Where possible, affiliates are asked to restrict the texts of motions to two pages.

    b. Where possible, each motion should cover only one subject, or strongly related subjects. Where two diverse subjects are covered, two motions should be submitted.

    c. Individual affiliates should try to limit themselves to a maximum of three motions.

    d. While affiliates may submit Congress motions in different languages, the English text will be the authentic version in all matters relating to their interpretation.

    e. Where possible, it will aid the work of the working party if motions are submitted in languages habitually used by the ITF.

    Content guidance

    f. Congress motions should generally cover major issues relating to the transport industry, as opposed to more restrictive technical issues (which can be dealt with by other forums e.g. section meetings).

    g. Congress motions should generally ask the ITF or a constituent of the ITF (e.g. section and region) to take some kind of action (e.g. campaigning. lobbying, public condemnation etc.)

    h. Congress motions should be practical and achievable within reason over a four-year period.

    i. Congress motions relating to national disputes should only be submitted if they raise major strategic or trade union rights issues.

What happens after my union has submitted a motion?
After a motion has been submitted, in this case to be received by the ITF before 5 April 2010, it will be considered by a resolutions working group which has been set up by the ITF Executive Board. This working group will consider all the motions which have been received and make recommendations to the April 2010 Executive Board on the motions.

The group will work to ensure a coherent set of motions. If a motion you have submitted needs to be redrafted, you will be contacted. For example, editorial changes may be suggested, meanings sometimes need clarifying with the mover, or several resolutions are received from different unions on the same subject that can be usefully drawn together. It is envisaged that re-drafting will be proposed at this stage and included in the report to the Executive.

After the working group has reported to the Executive Board, the approved results will be circulated to all affiliates giving them the opportunity to submit amendments to the redrafted motions. Original texts will be circulated for information only. It is envisaged that this will happen at the beginning of May 2010.

An additional document bringing together all the amendments submitted by 8th July will be prepared for the Congress.

The Congress will, as normal, elect a Resolutions Committee at its opening session, which will be comprised of accredited Congress delegates. The Committee will take as the basis of its work the working group report and the amendments document.

The Resolutions Committee will report its recommendations to the Congress plenary session.